Ranking Every Land with EDHREC – Part 12: Karooooooooooo!

(Expedition Map | Art by Franz Vohwinkel)

Stuck in the Past

Writing these articles a week in advance is weird. I’m currently smack dab in the middle of spoiler season, yet when this article actually goes out, spoiler season should be over. So maybe some card will come out that says, “Pay three mana, sacrifice target player” and I’ll be expected to make some witty comment on it. For all I know, by this time next week, everybody will be playing Kamigawa Pauper Tiny Leaders Brawl. Oh well. Can’t do anything but hope Budoka Pupil doesn’t spike before I can get my hands on it.

231: Ghost Town: 1,296 Decks

Why is this card $1? This card seems great in Commander and Tempest is a set that’s pretty old and valuable. Maybe people haven’t realized it exists yet. Is it because it’s an uncommon? Why is this an uncommon? Wizards has often made any random land a rare. Except Wasteland. Actually, why was Wasteland uncommon?

What was I talking about? Oh, right. Ghost Town! This is another case where time has made fools of us all. Mark Rosewater considered it a design mistake. Then Landfall came out and the card is pretty cool now. It’s basically a colorless Undiscovered Paradise. I think Paradise is actually better because it can tap for colored mana, but this card is only $1 and you can choose when you need to bounce it. I’d run both in Omnath, Locus of Rage

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Seriously, this card can’t be a dollar forever.

230: Grove of the Burnwillows: 1,339 Decks

There are 8,126 Gruul decks on EDHREC at the time of writing this article, and every single one that can afford this card should be running it. If I were just ranking the best dual lands for Gruul, Grove of the Burnwillows is easily in the top five, maybe top three, right alongside Taiga and Spire Garden.

It’s an untapped dual land with a crazy minor downside. What? They’ll gain 6 or 7 life? Oh no! My 30/30 trampler is practically trembling! It can even be an upside. Sure, the one life people gain off this won’t actually influence anyone on a major level, but the whole table will beg to be the recipient of this one life, just because. You can even go super deep on it. Kavu Predator anyone?

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Way way way underplayed. I originally thought that it’s placement here was because of it’s price but the card is $10. That’s not budget, but definitely affordable. Why is this card so dang low?

229: Fertile Thicket: 1,341 Decks

When it enters the battlefield: Off to a good start.

Look at the top five cards of your library: I’m intrigued, keep going

Reveal up to one basic land: Beautiful effect, just keep it together.

You may put that cardCOME ON!

On top of your library. And there it goes! You can see it flying out of the Commander deck and into the dusty box in the corner, never to be seen again!

'Top of your library' turns what might be a decent card into one that is very bad. What’s even the optimal scenario? Two lands in hand, play this turn one, find land number three? That’s not even that good, that’s very middling. And the other 99% of the time, you do not want to activate this ability. You can ignore it but now you have a tapped land. Oh joy!

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Compare this to Ash Barrens. That about sums it up.

228: Pendelhaven: 1,411 Decks

May I present to you all the last of the Legends lands on this list! What a journey it’s been. We’ve gone from Tolaria, which is pretty much a nonbasic island, to Hammerheim, which will maybe come up once in a 1,000 games, to Urborg, which was a little more relevant but wasn’t worth the price tag. Now we've reached Pendelhaven, which is actually kind of okay. You might be wondering where the fifth member of this cycle is, but that’s because Karakas is so good it’s banned. Legends, you weird set with your power level whiplash, I will not miss you.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Pendelhaven’s ability actually matters! With mana dorks and nothing else! It’s actually a card that see some play in cEDH decks, because it’s basically a Forest in all but name with a slightly-more-relevant-than-Urborg ability. But hey, at least it does something. Thanks for trying, Pendelhaven.

227: Scrying Sheets: 1,449 Decks:

Obviously in a snow deck, this is going to be “Two mana, draw a card” on a land, which is insane. But this is a case where Commander evolved to make this card good. Basically, in a mono-color deck, a deck can run snow basics instead of regular basics, and then Scrying Sheets draws basics off your deck. In mono-red or mono-white, a land that might draw a card 1/3 of the time is worth running. The obstacle is, once again, getting snow basics. Modern Horizons did make them easier to get, but they’re still 50 cents apiece, as opposed to regular basics, which are free. Plus, Snow basics won’t be that cheap for long.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Is it worth spending $30 on a land so you can buy $10 worth of snow lands so you can maybe draw a card? Ehhhhhhhhh. Maybe.

226: Skyline Cascade: 1,453 Decks

This does not tap the creature (nor does Kefnet’s Monument by the way). It only ensures it won’t untap if it’s already tapped. This is just such a nothing effect. If something is tapped, it probably already did its thing, like punching you in the face. And even if it does work, woohoo, you bought one turn, kind of.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: This is one of the better Zendikar mono-color tap lands for Commander, but that’s not saying much

225: (Tie) The “Karoo” lands: 1,453 Decks

(Coral Atoll: 1,751; Karoo: 1,646; Jungle Basin: 1,580; Dormant Volcano: 1,215; Everglades: 1,073)

Before the Bouncelands, there were the Karoo lands! Why do we call these the Karoo lands? Why aren’t they the Everglades’s or the Volcano lands? I mean, I know Karoo is fun to say, but... actually, I think I just solved it.

There’s a lot of theory about the bounce lands and how good they are. On one hand, they are soft “ramp.” Basically, you can play a land turn one, then play one of these turn two, and then the land you bounce can be your third land drop. You effectively make three land drops with two land. On the other hand, they enter tapped and are very awkward in the early game because you often have to discard to hand size when you bounce your land.

The color spread kind of clues us in to where these are good. Mono-blue and mono-white aren’t great at land based ramp so getting three lands from two is pretty good, whereas mono-green and mono-black can search out lands, so they don’t want the tapped land. Dormant Volcano is the pattern breaker. I guess red can’t really faff about with tapped lands.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Very awkward, but the ability to make mana out of thin air can be good.

224: Ifnir Deadlands: 1,507 Decks

Our time with the Desert cycle has been short, and we have reached the last and best member. Ignoring any synergies with the counters, this is a more expensive (but much better) Cabal Pit. Sorcery speed is pretty gross, but if this shrinks a big dude enough that they don’t want to attack anymore, that creature has been removed from the game in most cases. 

That’s not counting stuff like Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons and The Scorpion God, which care about counters, or even Muldrotha, the Gravetide which can buy this back multiple times. Even if it had no synergy at all, this is essentially free. It’s untapped and can tap for colorless. What more could you want?

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: If you have even a little synergy, you should be running this.

223: Grasping Dunes: 1,516 Decks

What if Quicksand wasn’t stupid? That’s Grasping Dunes. I don’t need to tell you that -1/-1 counters is a real deck theme. Wizards has been very diligent about building it. I mean before 2016, it was just Skeleton Ship and Vhati Il Dal, and while I love Vhati Il Dal, Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons is about as good a commander for -1/-1 counters as you can get. Until the very next set, when The Scorpion God was printed, which is also a great commander for -1/-1 counters. So yeah, Grasping Dunes has a place as more then a cheaper Wastes.

Over, Under, or Just Right: Underplayed: Why would you not play this in a -1/-1 counters deck? There’s over 2,000 of those decks on EDHREC, so get moving, Grasping Dunes!

222: Blighted Steppe: 1,530 Decks

Congregate is a card that should probably see more play. It’ll often gain you 30 or 40 life and that’s not even counting it against token decks, where it can get ludicrous. Blighted Steppe is similar but only counts your creatures. Is that stilll worth it? Ehhhhhh. It cost essentially five mana which is a lot for a card that might do nothing, so it needs to gain a ton of life on average. Something like Oloro, Ageless Ascetic that only runs a few creatures isn’t where this wants to be. It’s best in something like Krav, the Redeemed + Regna, the Redeemer which can make a ton of tokens and also runs lifegain payoffs like Aetherflux Reservoir.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I think it’s fine, but most lifegain decks don’t really want this.

221: Sequestered Stash: 1,568 Decks

Once again, 'top of your library' makes this pretty bad. Now, this does put a real card on top, instead of a land like Fertile Thicket, and it does mill you for five, so there is some value. If you want to run this, though, first remember Buried Ruin exist, but if you still want to run it, remember Inventors’ Fair also exist, but if you still want this card in particular, it’s not bad?

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Only 60% of decks running Buried Ruin are running this and again, I would rather it cost two less and put the artifact in my hand then mill a random five. However, it is a good budget alternative, so if you’re in budget Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient or Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle and can’t afford a better land, this is a fine substitute

Not Feeling Alive//Well Today

And that’s enough of that. Time to go find out what broke Standard today. As always, let me know what you think about these articles in whatever medium fits you best. I read every comment although I apparently don’t get notices on the old articles, so I’m sorry if I haven’t seen those yet. Thank you for reading and commenting!

Next week, the dead shall rise!

Joseph started playing in Theros Block but decided that the best way to play the game was to learn every single card and hope that would somehow make him good at Magic. It hasn't. He is a college student in Santa Fe, New Mexico and also enjoys reading and other games of all shapes and sizes.